A number of recent Found on the Mobile Web posts have included local newspapers from Gannett, the largest US publisher of daily papers. I’d heard that Gannett had plans to create a mobile site for every one of their newspapers and TV stations. They’ve reached that goal and have issued a press release listing all 106 sites, including the URL of each site. It’s amazing how almost every press release announcing a new mobile site is doesn’t list the url! Even releases touting new PC websites often leave off the web address. That’s the single most important thing you want to propagate in promoting a web property. It’s like a “brick and mortar” store announcing their grand opening without giving the street address.
The sites themselves are well done and would be a good model for anyone doing a mobile news site. They adhere to good mobile design practices, most use access keys for easy navigation and all have modest page and images sizes to insure that they work on even low-end phones. Although they probably all rely on the same back end engine, the layout, graphics and colors vary from site to site to give each an individual look.
These sites carry local news, sports, weather, event listings, photos and editorials. Most link to Gannett’s USA Today Mobile for National and International News. Only 14 of these sites were in the Yeswap portal and Wap Review directory so I’ve been busy adding them. I’ve finished adding the papers in Alabama though Indiana. The rest should be finished later this week.
Local newspapers and TV news programs are having a tough time competing with the web. Most have been trying to keep their readership and capture some advertising revenue with web sites of their own. In the last year US newspaper publishers and local TV news outlets have really embraced the mobile web as well. With the addition of these sites, Yeswap and Wap Review will list 165 US local newspaper and TV news sites most of which didn’t exist a year ago. I suspect the same thing is happening around the world but I’m having a hard time finding links to mobile local news sites outside the USA. Please leave a comment if you know of a local news site anywhere in the world that has an English edition and does not require a subscription.
I really hope the local paper survives in some form. Nothing on the web really takes the place of a team of professional full time local reporters covering local government, business and events. If local dailies go under we lose visibility of the workings of government. The scrutiny of the press helps keep our politicians reasonably honest. Here’s hoping these print based organizations can make a profitable move to the web including the mobile web.